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Bass Guitar Tone SUCKS!!!! Need advice!!!
Old 12th January 2019
  #1
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Bass Guitar Tone SUCKS!!!! Need advice!!!

Ok so I started forming a band to start playing out live in 2019. After auditioning five different bass players over five months, we finally found someone who can handle the material and has the right feel.

Only problem is...his tone SUCKS!!!! I mean it’s horrible. :0/ His sound is all twangy and there is no low end whatsoever, aargh! It sounds like he’s playing a strat. As a drummer I’m starting to get depressed just thinking about playing out live like that.

We had a jam session last week and I recorded it. Just a Tascam stereo handheld out in front. Like they say...recordings don’t lie!!! The guitarist had pointed out to me how much he hated the bass player’s tone and I agreed but I can’t say I was paying strict attention being the main arranger and writer as well as sitting on the kit directing two new members.

So I need your advice. How would you approach? What would you say to the bass player? He’s an older and very experienced player with a big personality it turns out, lol. I’ve had some really bad experiences even hinting at older cats to change their tone in past bands and it usually strains the vibe. :0( We are doing Reggae so Tone is essential here.

Any advice?
Old 12th January 2019
  #2
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Uh. You have got the Guitar Center Slap King.

Tell him the truth.

The simple solution is set the bass in passive mode or to set bass active tone pots to neutral.
Or using a "simple" good old Jazz or Precision...
Then setting the amp in a neutral way and turn knobs a little to shape the tone.
Any kid can set it after a week of practice...so... no great problems.

If he wants his actual tone at any cost, say goodbye.
Old 12th January 2019
  #3
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Funny Cat's Avatar
@ Mod s

Apologies. Meant to post this in So much gear. Any chance we can move it there? Thanks!

Last edited by Funny Cat; 12th January 2019 at 08:58 PM..
Old 12th January 2019
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Any advice?
Tone is part of the player. Either he wants that particular sound or tone has no meaning in his musical universe. If the latter, he can't even react to your input, because he wouldn't know what to do / what to adjust. It sounds like a potential constant hassle trying to steer him in any new direction. Sorry to be so negative, but your situation reminds me of past experiences
Old 12th January 2019
  #5
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@ Kimi777


Yes. I can get a good tone fairly easy. I also play bass but my experience is walking over to any musician and tweaking their amp and/or axe is a no, no. I need to have a firm but respectful discourse with him about it first without offending his musical sensibilities. That’s really what I need advice about. I hear you about saying bye bye if he’s persistent in his stance though.
Old 12th January 2019
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
[MENTION=421403]

Yes. I can get a good tone fairly easy. I also play bass but my experience is waking over to any musician and tweaking their amp and/or axe is a no, no. I need to have a firm but respectful discourse with him about it first without offending his musical sensibilities. That’s really what I need advice about. I hear you about saying bye bye if he’s persistent in his stance though.

Ok.
So the problem is not technical but about diplomacy/negotiations.

You can try to take it in this way:
"According to the soundcheck recording. We decided to have more bass, because you are such a talented player, we want to give you a bigger tone so that you don't stay in the background. You are that kind of good player that deserve to have a big tone in the band so we want to spend next weekend to make the bigger bass sound that we ever had"
Or something similar.

It's a kind manipulative approach, if he accepts is good.

If not... like that he says "This is my core tone, I've spent 200000$ to have it."
I think that then is veeeery difficult to keep him in the band.
Old 12th January 2019
  #7
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I would play your practice recordings for the band at the next practice, then ask them if they think it needs more low end. Maybe the bassist will agree, and realize it has to come from him. Maybe he disagrees, in which case you have to deal with it or find a new bass player. Either way, you didn't single him out.
Old 12th January 2019
  #8
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimi777 View Post
Ok.
So the problem is not technical but about diplomacy/negotiations.

You can try to take it in this way:
"According to the soundcheck recording. We decided to have more bass, because you are such a talented player, we want to give you a bigger tone so that you don't stay in the background. You are that kind of good player that deserve to have a big tone in the band so we want to spend next weekend to make the bigger bass sound that we ever had"
Or something similar.

It's a kind manipulative approach, if he accepts is good.

If not... like that he says "This is my core tone, I've spent 200000$ to have it."
I think that then is veeeery difficult to keep him in the band.

This is really good! Thank you!
Old 12th January 2019
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unitymusic View Post
I would play your practice recordings for the band at the next practice, then ask them if they think it needs more low end. Maybe the bassist will agree, and realize it has to come from him. Maybe he disagrees, in which case you have to deal with it or find a new bass player. Either way, you didn't single him out.

Yeah. I emailed a mashup file to each member hoping they would recognize the lack of low end and twangy tone before I address it.

This is only the second time linking with this bassist so I’m still learning his playing style, approach and personality.

The first rehearsal he was very quiet and laid back but played well. This past rehearsal session he was very opinionated, not in a bad way but had a lot of ideas bubbling in his head that he felt he needed to express.

At one point I had to say “yeah I’m not opposed to incorporating some of those ideas once we are tighter but I’d like to keep this project as Roots as possible”.
Old 12th January 2019
  #10
I think pointing out that he is lost in the mix is a great approach. Let him know you really want to hear his instrument the best it can be and that you are on his side. Win win.
Old 12th January 2019
  #11
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

How does a reggae band wind up with a twangy bass player in the first place? And why does a twangy bass player want to play reggae?

Late edit -- he's not all that twangy, as it turns out. Read on.

Last edited by Brent Hahn; 13th January 2019 at 05:10 PM..
Old 12th January 2019
  #12
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
How does a reggae band wind up with a twangy bass player in the first place? And why does a twangy bass player want to play reggae?

He is Jamaican! Like I said, he has the feel down and plays totally in the pocket. Before I met him he told me he’s been playing funk and pop over the past 15 yrs. said he hadn’t played any Reggae bc he hadn’t found any players in this area that understood how to play this music. Life is full of irony.
Old 12th January 2019
  #13
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
He is Jamaican! Like I said, he has the feel down and plays totally in the pocket. Before I met him he told me he’s been playing funk and pop over the past 15 yrs. said he hadn’t played any Reggae bc he hadn’t found any players in this area that understood how to play this music. Life is full of irony.
Interesting. Next rehearsal, maybe turn his cab around backwards. Or face down on the floor. I'm only half kidding.
Old 12th January 2019
  #14
Maybe the current bass sound is the best for the bassist in terms of self-monitoring? It's kinda useful to be able to hear the mids and up as a guide to one's position in the band and song.
Old 12th January 2019
  #15
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Interesting. Next rehearsal, maybe turn his cab around backwards. Or face down on the floor. I'm only half kidding.

Lol. Not even a possibility. He’s playing thru an 8x10 cabinet!
Old 12th January 2019
  #16
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Lol. Not even a possibility. He’s playing thru an 8x10 cabinet!
As in an SVT? If it's not, it might have (gah!) a horn in it as well.

And being a bass player myself, it took me a while to figure out that if I stood fairly near to my amp, I wasn't hearing what anyone else was hearing. The bass sound was blowing right by me. Maybe if your bass player got a long speaker cable and moved his amp head closer to you and the guitarist, he'd get a better idea of what y'all are concerned about.
Old 12th January 2019
  #17
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Drumsound's Avatar
I dealt with a similar situation many years ago. The bass player had a lot of treble in his Music Man and he made it worse by playing a Trace Elliot rig (ugg).

He had always played in bands of 4-5 people, but now we were starting a trio. We needed him to alter his sound AND his playing. The singer/guitarist/writer (who he'd been in a previous band with) and I told him that we desired a fuller sound in the low end and a less percussive approach. We gave him different recordings that we though would steer him in the right direction. He started using his 1x15' cab instead of his 4x10" cab, played his Fender more than his Music Man, and really got into the idea of foundation.

Coming from a clear and respectful point of view was the key.
Old 12th January 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
As in an SVT? If it's not, it might have (gah!) a horn in it as well.

And being a bass player myself, it took me a while to figure out that if I stood fairly near to my amp, I wasn't hearing what anyone else was hearing. The bass sound was blowing right by me. Maybe if your bass player got a long speaker cable and moved his amp head closer to you and the guitarist, he'd get a better idea of what y'all are concerned about.
I think it is an SVT. The spot we rehearse at has them in all their rooms. This particular room had a humongous Mesa head. The 1st room we practiced in had that tube Aguilar head which a collaborator if mine uses and his tone is warm, round and gigantic! So me and the guitar player are really scratching our heads at how twangy the tone is.
Old 12th January 2019
  #19
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
I think it is an SVT. The spot we rehearse at has them in all their rooms. This particular room had a humongous Mesa head. The 1st room we practiced in had that tube Aguilar head which a collaborator if mine uses and his tone is warm, round and gigantic! So me and the guitar player are really scratching our heads at how twangy the tone is.
Yeah, those cabs can be bright. Does your guy play roundwounds? With a pick? What rig would he be using on gigs?
Old 12th January 2019
  #20
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if the cab is super bright, closing all the tone pot on the bass can be an option.
Old 12th January 2019
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Yeah, those cabs can be bright. Does your guy play roundwounds? With a pick? What rig would he be using on gigs?

Yeah he plays roundwounds. I’m afraid to even ask what he’ll play on the gig. He might tell me he’s playing a VOX ac30 or something and that’s the secret to his tone.

I know, I know that’s a gtr cab. I’m just poking fun at this point, lol. I’m mobile right now but tonight when I get home I’ll post a snippet so you can hear just how twangy it is.
Old 12th January 2019
  #22
Gear Nut
 

I think it depends on what aspirations you have for the band. If it's just fun, a short conversation and he gets it or he doesn't.

If you have any long-term aspirations, the right bass player would have known from the beginning how much his tone fit or didn't fit in and made the proper adjustment. You want to be in a band with someone who can take the truth, but more than that, you want to be in a band with someone who's got a feel and a set of musical values that are similar to your own. Someone whose radar gets set off on the same things that set yours off.

I found that I grew the most as a player and writer when I played with guys whose sensibilities were closely aligned with mine and who were even better than me at executing their vision. The moment you feel like someone's dad in a relationship is the moment you need to leave.

[/rant]
Old 13th January 2019
  #23
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Snippet posted below so you can hear what I'm referring to.



@ Dubbin


I totally get where you're coming from. This project is just for fun to be completely honest but I want to be able to grow as a musician and push as well as be pushed by my band-mates. I'd like to have a good enough sound to play some nice gigs so I can buy a few more snare drums. Even with long term goals that don't end in a national tour, it wouldn't be fun to play unless the bass is HEAVY. That heavy bass sound is what attracts many folks to this genre IMO. It would be like starting a punk garage band and having the guitar player smashing out Santana solos on every song. Not appropriate! and Not fun!


.
Attached Files

Jam Snippet.mp3 (7.97 MB, 1550 views)

Old 13th January 2019
  #24
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Snippet posted below...
From the description I expected Chris Squire or Geddy Lee or something, and the recording may not tell the whole story, but... I like this guy. He's got a tuba sensibility and touch. Strong player. Plays a little "longer" than I might in that first tune, love what he's doing in the second one. On top of the beat in a good way. Overall his attitude and sound are a little coarser than everyone else's, but that might be something to aspire to.

Side note: at the end of the intro in the second tune, your guitarist and keys player need to decide whether the 5 chord is augmented or not. :-)
Old 13th January 2019
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
From the description I expected Chris Squire or Geddy Lee or something, and the recording may not tell the whole story, but... I like this guy. He's got a tuba sensibility and touch. Strong player. Plays a little "longer" than I might in that first tune, love what he's doing in the second one. On top of the beat in a good way. Overall his attitude and sound are a little coarser than everyone else's, but that might be something to aspire to.


Yes. He's a good player. Has decent sensibility and pretty good feel. But the tone in the recording is just like it sounded in the room. It's not the tone you aspire to for a Reggae tune. It needs to be more "warm and round", like this:







Quote:
Side note: at the end of the intro in the second tune, your guitarist and keys player need to decide whether the 5 chord is augmented or not. :-)

Right! We get a pass though since this was only the second time we have all been in a room together and those two songs we did on the spot from some ideas I had. We've got a long road ahead. Lot's of work to do! Thanks for listening and I appreciate all the advice so far. I think at this point I'm going to try @ Kimi777 and @ musicianof1 (s) advice and see where it leads. I'm not the best at being diplomatic though! Doesn't come that easy for me, lol.
Old 13th January 2019
  #26
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bgood's Avatar
Just tell him you love his playing but that you’d like to hear more bottom... play him a cd of s tone reference if you want to get deep into it... if he gets sideways on you then it’s not a good fit

Obviously be nice about it and all that... think of it as good experience for you... learning how to articulate what you want to hear from your players
Old 13th January 2019
  #27
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
He is Jamaican! Like I said, he has the feel down and plays totally in the pocket. Before I met him he told me he’s been playing funk and pop over the past 15 yrs. said he hadn’t played any Reggae bc he hadn’t found any players in this area that understood how to play this music. Life is full of irony.
That's your in. "So, yeah, that makes sense, I was thinking you're too good at this music to use a pop/rock type tone, but if it's what you've been doing that long I get it. Do you think you could shoot for a thicker tone in line with the music? Might be like coming home!"
Old 13th January 2019
  #28
Gear Nut
 

Ok, having just listened a bit, it's not a train wreck. He's just had years of cutting through mid-range instruments- may just be helpful to point out he's got a whole lot more room to fill up the bottom without having anything he needs to cut through.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Snippet posted below so you can hear what I'm referring to.



@ Dubbin


I totally get where you're coming from. This project is just for fun to be completely honest but I want to be able to grow as a musician and push as well as be pushed by my band-mates. I'd like to have a good enough sound to play some nice gigs so I can buy a few more snare drums. Even with long term goals that don't end in a national tour, it wouldn't be fun to play unless the bass is HEAVY. That heavy bass sound is what attracts many folks to this genre IMO. It would be like starting a punk garage band and having the guitar player smashing out Santana solos on every song. Not appropriate! and Not fun!


.
Old 13th January 2019
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Snippet posted below so you can hear what I'm referring to.
I actually like his tone, but it's kind of hard to hear how much low end might be missing since the whole recording in general is lacking low end. If it's actually a problem then just split his signal and send it to a sub or a deeper amp or something, and let him do his thing.
Old 13th January 2019
  #30
As a multi instrumentalist who’s been indozens of bands I can tell you bass tone is VERY difficult to get right and by far the most overlooked in a band like what you’re starting up. It’s eothr mud or that twang you mention and rarely clean punch, which is where you want to be. It’s his rig man no doubt about it. Don’t over complicate this. If he’s got a decent passive bass, which I’m sure he does, it’s the rig. Make him use a compressor pedal, that’s 101. Make sure he’s got a good rig and tell him to eq tothe band and the room, not his taste. Done
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